JACKSON, Sir Keith Alexander (1798-1843)
Views in Affghaunistaun ... from sketches taken during the campaign of the Army of the Indus
London: published by W.H. Allen & Co. and T.M'Lean, . Folio. (14 3/4 x 10 1/2 inches). Tinted lithographed title, uncoloured lithographed dedication "To The Chairman and Directors of the Honble the East India Company," hand-coloured lithographed frontispiece, engraved map and 26 tinted lithographed plates after Jackson by W. L. Walton, T. Allom and others.
Publisher's moire cloth boards, lettered in gilt on the upper cover, expertly rebacked to style, original yellow endpapers
A fine and rare record of the first Afghan War.
An army of 21,000 troops under the command of Sir John Keane set out from the Punjab in December 1838 with orders to take Kabul and replace the emir Dost Mohammad with Shah Shuja. By late March 1839, the British forces had reached Quetta, crossed the Bolan Pass and begun their march to Kabul. They advanced through rough terrain, crossed deserts and 12,000-foot-high mountain passes, but made good progress and took Kandahar on April 25, 1839. On July 22, in a surprise attack, they captured the until-then impregnable fortress of Ghazni, which overlooks a plain leading eastward into the North West Frontier Province: the British troops breached the defenses by blowing-up one of the city gates and, following some fierce fighting, marched into the city. In taking this fortress, they suffered 200 men killed and wounded, while the Afghans lost nearly 500 men. 1,600 Afghans were taken prisoner, and an unknown number were wounded. Following this, the British achieved a decisive victory over Dost Mohammad's troops, led by one of his sons. Dost Mohammad fled with his loyal followers across the passes to Bamian, and ultimately to Bukhara. This first and most successful stage of the war ended in August 1839, when, after almost thirty years, Shuja was again enthroned in Kabul.
The present work records this period in words and pictures and was published before the setbacks which led to the eventual decision by the British to withdraw from Afghanistan. Following the completion of this first campaign, Jackson, a Captain in the 4th Light Dragoons, was granted leave to return to Britain and was able to arrange for the publication of the present work. Although including some historical information and topographical description, the chief attraction of this fine work are the fine lithographed views. These include images referencing specific military engagements (enhanced by Jackson's eye-witness descriptions), as well as general views of "Caubul" and other cities, forts and mountainous passes. Although some images show British officers, most include depictions of locals in native dress.
A contemporary reviewer, in the Literary Gazette, writes: "A great dandy of Affghaun and a great gun of Ghuznee, as frontispiece and vignette, introduce us to these views, which embrace a variety of objects of Oriental interest-scenery, fortifications, storming attacks, ruins, minarets, travelling, costume, cities, navigation, tombs, and, in short, the most remarkable features in the territories lately invaded by the British army. They are executed on a large scale, and with a combined aspect of fidelity and spirit which strongly recommends them to our approbation. We should say, from comparison with other Eastern works of the same kind, that they are accurate in relation to truth and clever in relation to art" (Literary Gazette, 12 June 1841).
Abbey Travel II, 506; Bobins The Exotic and the Beautiful I, 259.